Thursday, October 18, 2012

Beacon Rock, Washington

I'm putting up my feet today and relaxing, because I have a guest post today by the architect who steals my covers (also known as Archie Techt.)  Here's what he wrote:

This scene of Castle Rock in the beautiful Columbia River Gorge, which forms the border between Oregon and Washington states, made me want to go for a visit.  It would have been a search in vain though, since Castle Rock no longer exists.  Well, the basalt monolith still exists, but it is now called Beacon Rock.  Originally named Beaten Rock by Lewis and Clark in 1805 as they headed down the Columbia on their expedition west to the Pacific, the name was later changed to Beacon Rock, then Castle Rock, then back to Beacon Rock in 1916. 
Henry Biddle purchased the 848’ tall rock column in 1915 for $1, then spent the next three years building an approximately mile long series of switch-backed trail and bridges up the near vertical south face to the summit.  Views of the gorge along the way and from the top are spectacular, if a bit vertigo inducing.  A volcanic plug, Beacon Rock is the solidified lava core of a larger volcanic cone, the softer remainder of which was washed away during the ice age by the Missoula floods. 
In the early 1930s, the Army Corps of Engineers looked at all of that rock--essentially a vertical quarry--at the river’s edge, and decided they should blow it up to supply material for a jetty at the mouth of the Columbia River. They got as far as digging three caves at the base for explosives, before the Biddle family gave the property to Washington to be used as a state park (Washington originally refused the gift, so the Biddles offered it to Oregon instead, at which point Washington reconsidered….). 
In more recent history, Daily Postcard author Christine was in a Portland book club with Helene Biddle Dick, granddaughter of Henry.  And when my father passed away, I buried his watch at the top of Beacon Rock, as I felt that it offered a view of timeless beauty in every direction.
The double-entendre of the second card made more sense when I read the back and saw it was intended for WWII soldiers.
 Christine on her way up the switchback trail--hang onto your hat!
 The view of the Columbia River Gorge from the Beacon Rock summit is lovely, even on a cold, misty day.                     
  Here's the back of the first card. 


  1. I really like the visual history of this area. The earlier cards look like they were black and whites that had been tinted but I bet it just was the low tech printing process of the time.

  2. I hadn't realized it was called Castle Rock at one time. I knew someone whose father rode a motorcycle to the top and had the feat covered in the local paper -- in the 1920s or 30s I think.

  3. Hallo Christine,
    das Foto von dir ist spektakulär. Ich nehme an, du bist schwindelfrei, ich würde mir in solch luftiger Höhe in die Hose machen ;0)
    Liebe Grüße

  4. Just amazing! Looks terrifying though.

  5. What a beautiful location, and a lovely tribute to your father. I never knew all that history about Beacon Rock.Fascinating! Karin

  6. Interesting photos and story. I've looked up several volcanic plugs this afternoon, a fascinating feature of nature. Burying your late fathers watch at the top is an impressive homage. And I appriciate the 'scenic beauty' :-).

  7. I have climbed Beacon Rock. Almost had a nervous breakdown/panic attack, but I did it:) The toddlers passing me without a worry or fear of heights really irked me.hahaha Next time I go, I'll think of you and your daddy's watch. Lovely symbolic gesture!!



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